Monday, June 03, 2013


Politico describes the latest stumbling block Republicans (led by Marco Rubio) want to place in the way of immigration reform:
The Gang of Eight's hopes for a Senate supermajority is running into the GOP's push for a dramatic crackdown on border security....

[Senator Marco] Rubio, a key member of the Gang of Eight, is shopping around a proposal to have Congress -- not the Department of Homeland Security -- write the border control strategy that would be a prerequisite for most of the other elements of reform. Rubio hasn't yet landed on specific parameters, but, arguing that Americans don't trust their government to get it right, Rubio wants lawmakers to craft the plan at the outset, rather than leave the details up to the Obama administration.
Yup -- Congress should do this because "Americans don't trust their government to get it right." Congress, apparently, is not part of the government, according to Rubio.

I thought that might just be an inaccurate paraphrase of what Rubio is saying, but apparently not:
[Rubio's] invoking the IRS scandal to sell his proposal.

"The lack of trust in the federal government -- by the way, not made any better by the events of the last few days, things we've learned the federal government has done in other realms, whether it's the IRS or other things," Rubio said. "The lack of trust in the federal government, and in particular, in this administration, makes it even harder to convince people that coming up with a plan like this on its own is good enough. So maybe the solution is to have Congress actually write that plan for them."
Senator? You're in the upper house of Congress. You're part of "the federal government." (And, of course, you're part of the branch of the federal government with a 15% approval rating; the president's is more than three times as high.)

But Rubio is just tapping into a popular right-wing meme: the notion that only the parts of the government controlled by Republicans are legitimate. Recall that when Newt Gingrich's hordes took over Congress after the 1994 midterms, he tried to turn himself into the pseudo-president of the United States, while Bill Clinton had to insist that, yes, the actual presidency was still relevant. By contrast, when Democrats regained control of Congress after the 2006 midterms, the notion that they might try to act in ways that displeased the Republican president of the United States was deemed utterly outrageous by the right and center alike.

Rubio's desire to put this aspect of immigration policy under congressional control suggests that he and his fellow Republicans are pretty confident that their party will control Congress forever. Of course, given the way House districts lead to GOP majorities even when a majority of the total House vote goes to Democrats, and given the fact that all Republicans ever need to control the Senate is a 41-vote superminority, that may be a safe assumption.

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